Calling the condition of America "totally unacceptable," former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is formally entering the 2012 Republican presidential sweepstakes, promising new jobs, energy independence and a simpler tax code.
"For the first time in our history, we are about to pass down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got," Huntsman says in excerpts of a speech he's giving Tuesday morning as he declares he's joining the race to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
Huntsman is the eighth candidate to officially enter the race, joining former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., former pizza company entrepreneur Herman Cain, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
There has been speculation that Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani might also jump in.
In the excerpts of the announcement speech Huntsman was giving at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, he said he respects Obama, whom he served as ambassador to China, but added that he and the president have "a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love."
"But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is, 'Who will be the better president, not who's the better American.' "
Huntsman chose the same site where another former western governor, Ronald Reagan of California, announced his candidacy in 1980.
"I'm Jon Huntsman, I've been a governor, a businessman, and a diplomat," he said in the prepared remarks. "I'm the husband of the love of my life and the father of seven terrific kids. A son of great parents. I'm from the American west, where the view of America is limitless with lots of blue sky. ... And today, I'm a candidate for the office of president of the United States of America."
Huntsman had been flirting with a presidential run for months, and in interviews recently he has criticized U.S. foreign policy, saying the country is overcommitted to world trouble spots. He has also sought to stress his background as a businessman and has said jobs would be a top priority.
In his prepared remarks, Huntsman said, "We will not be the first American generation that lets down the next generation."
"What we need now is leadership that trusts in our strength. Leadership that doesn't promise Washington has all the solutions to our problems, but rather looks to local solutions in our cities, towns and states."